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  1. #11
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    Chapter Four

    Mhenlo had been slightly surprised to see Cynn break down shortly after the King called the audience closed in order to call the Lords and Dukes of Ascalon together to discuss the news Vekk had brought from underneath their feet.

    His wife was normally so flippantly cavalier about things, and even when something did effect her, she hid it well. So, when she followed her emotional catharsis with a swift dash down the halls of Rin’s palace, he was so taken aback that he didn’t respond as quickly as he probably should have.

    That caused him to momentarily lose sight of his dear elementalist, eventually finding her once again with the help of several palace guards who helpfully pointed the way. She had finally stopped in the east wing, at an exterior hall that faced where the sun had just set, bringing with it the dusk of approaching night.

    “Cynn…” Mhenlo began warily. He knew how violently emotional some women could get during pregnancy, and had to admit he had a slight apprehension about the wrath that could be unleashed within his occasionally volatile wife.

    She didn’t look at him, her eyes cast downward to where sky met land at the horizon. “I remember the first time in my life the king came to Surmia. I don’t think in the fifteen years from that point, he ever really changed in my eyes. I guess… I guess he was immortal to me or something.”

    Cynn choked back a sob, “But… to see him so frail… so weak… I guess I never realized that’s the sort of thing that happens… when you get… old.”

    Mhenlo’s arm worked around the sorrowed elementalist as she continued to ramble, “Is our child one day going to look at me… old and wrinkled and weak and pitiful? What is he or she going to think when that day comes? When I’m old and about to die?”

    “Our child will think that he or she had a lucky life.” Mhenlo answered. “Age and death happen; and they happen to everyone.” His mouth then tugged upward, “Is that what was bothering you? That one day you’ll look old?”

    Cynn huffed. “And what about it? Maybe I don’t want to look like some dehydrated fruit.”

    Mhenlo gently cupped her cheek. “I’m afraid that’s rather inevitable, my love. But it won’t change how I feel about you.”

    “Sure it will.” Cynn glowered. “You’ll just be so worn down yourself that you won’t care.”

    The monk gently kissed the side of her mouth. “Well, I suppose we shall see about that, shall we?”

    * * * * *

    “You’re certain about this, Vekk?” Devona asked warily, “I do not want the king’s hopes raised over nothing.”

    The warrior and the Asuran Elementalist were just outside the now closed doors of the throne room, Devona deciding not to wait any further before beginning her own private interrogation.

    “I’m well familiar with Coran’s voice, bookah.” Vekk replied. “And the other Asurans would never have acknowledged any other human as running Atal Ra. Don’t worry, Devona, your prince was alive and well as late as one week prior when we received the message in Rata Sum.”

    With a smug grin, he added, “And why do I get the feeling the king’s hopes is secondary in your mind?”

    “I’m of secondary mind to throttle you, midget.” Devona snarled, “And let me promise you that this better not be some trick to get humans to do your dirty work for you. If it proves to be, you better pray the king’s men find you before I do.”

    “My father was fond of that trick, a trait I do not share.” Vekk responded, his tone grave. “I would recommend you don’t group me with my kin’s somewhat… delegating manner. I personally find such tactics insulting, for both parties involved. It implies us Asura are incapable of handling our own tasks, which reflects poorly on how we’ve survived long before we approached the surface world.”

    Devona blinked, as if she was finally coming to grip with Vekk’s news. “Coran… really is down there.”

    “I’m glad you’re catching up.” Vekk droned. “For the last forsaken time; yes, Prince Coran really did survive all these years. Yes, he really lives among my people in Atal Ra. I don’t know how many more times I should have to explain all these things.”

    “Ascalon has been a land without hope for some time.” Aidan noted, slipping into the discussion from behind Devona. “Even if just a twinkle, the idea that royal line continues offers some small degree of hope.”

    Vekk’s eyes turned up curiously towards the ranger. “Well, I suppose we’ll see about that…”

    * * * * *

    It had seemed like just yesterday that Vekk had delivered the news that Coran still lived when the Asura led the massive drilling device they would use to bore into the Atal Ra chamber while the Ascalon Guard stood ready to follow and assist in securing the area.

    Wait… that had been yesterday.

    Normally known for it’s degree of gridlock in making any decision, the Dukes and Lords of Ascalon immediately gave their blessing and whatever manpower they could to King Adelbern, and the moment that the king declared the Asura could proceed with their plan, the machinating species was wheeling in bits and pieces of the drill and various other devices that served no discernable purpose save to them.

    The Asura had also worked tirelessly through the previous night to bring the drill to “operational status”, much to the dismay of the populous of Ascalon City, which was less than one mile from the proposed site for the drilling. Devona felt they really didn’t have much room to complain… after all, they hadn’t been a mere hundred feet from the non-stop construction.

    So why was she so energized? Devona had to fight the urge to smack a few Asuran heads together and order them to get that spiraling mess of metal digging into the earth. Good grief… she should not be acting this way. Even if Prince Coran still lived… all that was years ago… hell, she might not even recognize him.

    She sighed. Of course she’d recognize him. He’d be like Norn standing in a group of dwarves… it’d be rather obvious. But still… eight years… would Coran even remotely resemble the man just into adulthood that she remembered? And why did it even matter? Gods save her, her thoughts were running wild like she was a teenager again.

    “Alright, at the ready, ladies and gentlemen, we’re starting up the drill.” Vekk declared, his voice carrying surprisingly well for such a small frame. “Keep twenty meters back at all times to let debris settle, but other than that, be prepared to come out swinging the moment we enter the chamber. There’s no telling what’ll be waiting for us.”

    Devona allowed that order to clear her head. Finally, something she understood, something that wasn’t confusing, something that didn’t require deep introspection and exploring supposedly long dead feelings. Idiot, meet hammer. Hammer, idiot. Simple, concise, and clear…

    … She liked that.

  2. #12
    LoL :D

    Devona and Coran! I can't wait to see how that turns out.

    I don't normally like Mhenlo, but he's just too sweet here ^^

    Idiot, meet hammer. Hammer, idiot. Simple, concise, and clear…
    Win!

  3. #13
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    Chapter Five

    Devona couldn’t hear a word Aiden was saying, and he was standing right at her shoulder. The massive drill boring through the hard bedrock underneath Ascalon was making quite a violent racket, squealing, grinding, shuddering, and shaking through the time-hardened earth, and making any semblance of conversation impossible.

    That didn’t seem to stop the ranger from trying, as his lips kept moving, his face visibly reddening from his exertions despite the dim light being provided by the Asuran Recovery Krewe that was mingled about the human contingent escorting them.

    “What? I can’t understand you!” She yelled back, even as she knew that he had probably about as much chance of hearing her as she did hearing him.

    Then with an abrupt whirr, the laboring machine seemed to ease, and the reason why was revealed moments later as a rush of air flooded the bored tunnel, and the illumination of light appeared in the cracks between earth and machine. The cracks widened, and soon the drill emerged fully into the cavern of the Atal Ra academy, and was quickly pulled to a stop and silence.

    “I was trying to ask you how much further you thought we had to go.” Aiden said. “But I suppose that’s a rather moot point now, isn’t it?”

    “Okay, you humans can now light your torches if you so please, but as you can see, there should be ample lighting here for even your kind.” One of the Recovery Krewe members grumbled bitterly.

    Devona supposed the irritated Asura had good reason to be. On two separate occasions, members of the Ascalon militia had complained that the tunnel was too dark, and sought to ignite their torches… and nearly setting off small pockets of invisible gas that had leaked from the earth. If not for the Asurans quick actions to stop such efforts, the mission might have met a tragically quick end.

    “That’s enough Kreweman.” Vekk chided, climbing out of the cockpit of the drill before raising his voice to address the small army that had now entered the chamber. “I trust you remember your team assignments and your patrol routes. Kill any Destroyer on sight, and report in any survivors you find. Work quickly. Work efficiently. Move out!”

    He didn’t even pause to see if the teams did indeed understand what they were assigned to do, shuffling right up to Devona’s feet and asking, “You and your friends ready to go, bookah?”

    Devona took a deep breath, and replied, “I do know what that means. You realize that, right?”

    “It’s why I call you that… bookah.” The Asura said with a toothy grin.

    Devona’s fists clenched, and her lips and eyes pursed tightly. She reminded herself not to give Vekk the pleasure of knowing that he was infuriating her… it would only encourage him. Let him have his fun, and eventually he’ll get bored and start aggravating someone else. Hopefully Cynn… at least then everyone would learn what barbequed Asura looks like.

    Her ire quelled, Devona took step, forcing herself to remain focused on the task at hand. Ahead of them, the shimmering citadel that was Atal Ra emerged from over the rise overlooking the drill site, and the warrior stopped for a moment in awe.

    “Yes, it is quite a sight, isn’t it?” Vekk asked rhetorically.

    Even with the damage readily apparent to the academy’s west side, the main complex of Atal Ra was indeed a vision unlike anything Devona could readily remember. The exterior wall of drab earth blocked from sight most of what was on the ground level, but the towers, four visible with curved tapered walls of golden color that shimmered from the artificial lighting in the cavern flanked a angular central tower of a gleaming white silver, joined by white, immaculately cleaned covered bridges between all.

    Bright beams of light shot upward from behind the earthen barricade towards the top of the central tower, where the top tiles were clearly of some sort of mirrored material that reflected said light through the cavern in a soft uniform glow.

    “It’s… beautiful.” Devona agreed.

    An inhuman roar ended any distracted thoughts, and Devona’s head jerked to the sound of the noise to her west… in what appeared to be a stampede of at least twenty Destroyers. Devona quickly stepped between the charging horde and her companions, sensing Cynn take three steps backward off her right shoulder as Aiden did the same to her left. Eve, Mhenlo, and the Asuran support personnel formed the back flank with Vekk in the center, who was apparently trying to communicate with the other Krewes.

    “This is Recovery Krewe Alpha One, we have a plethora of Destroyers bearing down fast at coordinates -2.21, 0.77; requesting backup as soon as Asuraly possible. Out!”

    Of course, said request would have been extremely late in coming, as by the time Vekk had ended his plea, the infernal creatures were nearly on top of them. Devona successfully deflected and knocked the lead beast to the earth, but was promptly bowled over by the Destroyer directly behind it. She braced herself to fight out from under the creature, but it didn’t follow it’s attack, instead nearly stepping on her skull in it’s mad dash ahead.

    Wherever these monsters were going, it clearly had nothing to do with the Recovery Krewe, as Cynn found out when the Destroyer she immolated didn’t even pause to give her passing attention, mindlessly continuing its charge through the party followed by its kin. The rear ranks of the Krewe managed to dive or scurry out of the stampede’s path, but for Devona, it was a mad scramble and roll to avoid the pounding hooves or feet or whatever they were from the Destroyers as they rushed past the now hopelessly broken formation of humans and Asura.

    The stampede fully passed by in a mere handful of seconds, and after the chaos, Devona had to admit she was astonished she merely suffered some scrapes and a rather nasty gash to her forehead, which Mhenlo dutifully healed within seconds.

    “Okay… those Destroyers were running away from something.” Devona noted, somewhat to the obvious. “But what?”

    The Krewe could barely manage to sort out just who was who, let alone answer the question, when another beast, this one more kin to the Charr race, also rushed past without even a cursory glance at the Krewe. It was holding some manner of shiny, metallic device with a series of flickering lights around a rectangular base with a small slightly bowl-shaped disc protruding from the top.

    “Okay… just to make sure I’m not going mad…” Cynn began, pointing in the direction that the peculiar procession had departed. “Everyone else saw a Charr run thataway, right?”

    “That appeared to be a sonic resonator…” Vekk said. “But would that have caused the Destroyers' flight?”

    Further musing on the issue ended swiftly when the Destroyer Devona had taken down bounced to its feet with one powerful burst of strength, and roared in challenge at the warrior that had attacked it. Devona started to make a swing with her hammer, but knew she wouldn’t be fast enough, nor would any of her allies be able to act before its blow landed…

    But as a potentially fatal attack seemed imminent, instead there was a crackle of electricity, and a sharp lance of energy struck the Destroyer in the side of the head, and caused the hard earthen carapace to crack and shatter slightly, again knocking the monster off balance, and giving Devona the opportunity to deliver the killing blow across what remained of the creature’s skull.

    It hadn’t even crumpled to the ground with a heavy thud before the Krewe turned their attention to the source of the attack. A lone slender human figure stood in white regalia armor and gold trim of Istani design. On his left arm was attached a long, slender golden shield etched with a relief of a figure Devona couldn’t readily discern, the right propping a menacing silver spear haft on his shoulder, a pronged three barbed steel spear head adorning the front end and two red fletching fins on the rear.

    The armor was definitely new… but the facial features were surprisingly familiar, especially when his eyes met Devona’s, and melted into the surprise she no doubt was sharing.

    His shield and spear dropped, completely forgotten, Devona following suit with her hammer as both dashed across the distance separating them, meeting in a warm, plastering embrace.

    “Coran… you have no idea how relieved I am to see you again.” Devona whispered into his ear, “It’s been a very long time.”
    Last edited by chemiclord; 14-02-2009 at 06:21.

  4. #14
    Banes Son
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    LOL! Those destroyers wanted no part of Coran, I gotta get me a spear like that!

    *howls*
    F5!!!!!

  5. #15
    GWOnline.Net Member Denji's Avatar
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    Haha, it was the Charr that made me realized why there were bells ringing at the name Coran! I loved the first fic with Coran (read it on ff.net), and can't wait for the rest of this one!

    Get 'em Grazz!

  6. #16
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    Chapter Six

    The heartfelt reunion was interrupted by a spontaneous explosion, and an eruption of flame from behind the Krewe that reached and spread across the ceiling of the cavern.

    Coran’s head turned upwards towards the pillar of fire, and noted, “Hmmm… looks like Yue packed a few extra charges in that one. She knows better than that.” Then looking back down on Devona, and taking a moment to register the fact that he was actually taller than she was added, “You and your friends very nearly ruined our little wrangling operation there.”

    The warrior’s lower jaw dropped slightly. “It’s not like we knew what was going on!”

    He grinned. “No, I suppose you wouldn’t. Fortunately, the Destroyers were more interested in getting away from the ultrasonic waves than trying to chomp on some warm, fleshy bodies.”

    “So, that was a sonic resonator.” Vekk noted.

    Coran swiftly parted from Devona, “Well, well… if it isn’t Gadd’s own failure of his reproductive organs. Good to see you again.”

    Devona smirked when the noted the Asura cringe, and filed that jab away for potential use later. She began to wonder what other ammunition Coran could give her as he began chatting away with Vekk, using terms and slang that might as well have been an entirely different language.

    “So, a frequency of positive 117.33 wpm is painful to the Destroyer’s sense of hearing? Fascinating.” Vekk said, rubbing his chin. “How did you discover that?”

    “Like many profound discoveries, actually… completely by accident.” Coran admitted, “The Destroyers had breached the west barricade, and Yue started fiddling with the communications tower in an attempt to get some sort of emergency broadcast out to the rest of the Asura. She happened to make one broadcast and the Destroyers fell over one another trying to get away from the tower’s immediate vicinity. It took a while, but I figured out just what the beasts were reacting to, and had the Mechanical Krewe modify any sound producing device they could to emit that frequency. That happenstance was the primary reason we managed to hold out against their siege.” He then paused, and noted, “Speaking of Yue, she normally would have reported in by now. Where did she go?”

    “Right behind you.”

    It was as if the woman in Vanguard assassin armor had materialized behind Coran… no one in the Krewe would have been able to honestly say they had seen her coming or even recognized her existence up until she had spoken.

    Nonetheless, the prince himself was apparently well used to her manner of appearance, as he didn’t even flinch. “I trust the Destroyers we herded were taken care of? You certainly used enough charges to take out a small army.”

    Yue shrugged. “I had some extra. Why not use them?”

    “Those aren’t easy to make, I’ll have you know.”

    “Couldn’t tell from the way they’re tumbling off the manufacturing line.” She responded unapologetically. “Ah, Grazz, there you are. I hope you didn’t scratch the resonator’s casing. Coran’s feeling the strain of production costs again.”

    The prince rolled his eyes. “Right...” He droned, and approached the Charr that had joined the gathering. He did give said device the once over however, causing Yue to chortle audibly.

    Any retort he might have had was cut off by Cynn asking a question that had slowly been filtering into many of the Krewe’s mind. “May someone explain to me how a prince, an Ebon Vanguard Assassin, and a Charr wound up working together in an Asuran city?”

    “That’s a story that’s probably best suited for more comfortable environs, my lady.” Coran answered, “Come… the midday meal is approaching anyway, and good company and pleasant discussion should make the somewhat meager fare more appealing.”

    * * * * *

    The midday meal wasn’t what Devona would consider “meager”, but she also figured that she wasn’t thinking in terms of royalty and scholars, who would probably be more accustomed to far more lavish delicacies.

    “Alright, I believe we had left off with the lady Cynn asking how a Charr and an assassin came into the company I keep.” Coran said, possibly more to remind himself more than anyone. “Well, let’s see… I met Grazz during an archeological foray I took north of the wall about, goodness, that was over a decade ago by now wasn’t it? Anyway, I was escorted by a protection detail towards the Eastern ridge mountains, where I was told some remains of the Giganticus Lupicus could be found. That turned out to be a wasted effort, but I did gain a nice ally and informant in the process.”

    Coran’s eyes drifted across to the Charr. “Grazz Flamemane was a young shaman adept at the time, but unlike most of his kin, he found the sophistication of the human race to the south intriguing… a most refreshing attitude really… and thought there was much both races could learn from each other. After some understandable confusion and threats of violence, rational heads prevailed and a deal was struck. He’d be my eyes within the Charr lands, and I would teach him, specifically in our medical methods for general health and illness when a healer was not readily available. The Charr’s knowledge in simple injury treatment was dreadfully crude, for example.”

    “I’m… honestly… astonished you’d agree to assist a Charr in any manner.” Aidan said after swallowing a bite of overly dry poultry. “I mean, considering your family history.”

    “I shall admit; I wasn’t particularly enamored with the idea at first myself.” The prince acknowledged. “But it seemed better to give Grazz a chance than have him mercilessly slaughtered when he was alone and offering himself defenselessly at my feet. In the end, the deal was quite beneficial for both sides. He never once betrayed my trust, and much of his information on Charr movements was invaluable in keeping their offensive stalled as long as it was.”

    “Obviously not well enough to stall the Searing.” Cynn groused.

    Coran’s head dropped, and for a moment, he seemed genuinely wounded by those words. “Yes… obviously not well enough, was it?”

    “And you say all you wanted was medical knowledge?” Mhenlo queried of the Charr, more to change the topic than any curiosity. Grazz jostled when he realized the monk was speaking to him. “I am glad to hear there are some among your people who seek to preserve life than take it indiscriminately.”

    Coran smirked, “He’s not going to talk to you, I’m afraid.”

    Mhenlo seemed startled. “Whyever not?”

    The Charr rolled his eyes, and slumped his shoulders in defeat. Apparently, this was a story that had been told many times.

    “Well, perhaps I should say he can’t talk to you.” Coran corrected himself, “Or talk to anyone, for that matter.”

    Grazz complied by lifting his head, showing a nasty clump of scar tissue across his throat, visible through the drastically thinner hair over the wound. This prompted Coran to continue, “While Grazz was in my confidence, he still had duties with his people to fulfill. One of them was spreading the word of the shaman caste about their ‘gods.’ This was all well and good for some time, until about five years ago when one tribal chief decided he didn’t exactly like what Grazz had to preach. This chief had Grazz drug out into the wilderness, where he then ripped out Grazz’s larynx and left him to die. It was fortunate Yue was tracking the clan and quickly came to Grazz’s aid, or I fear the chief’s plan would have been successful.”

    Devona started, having a really bad feeling that the world had become a much smaller place. “This… Charr tribal chief… do you happen to know his name?”

    Coran paused, and tapped his chin. “Oh yes, indeed. It was… Pyre Fierce… shot, as I recall. Right, Yue?”

    Grazz gurgled, his face twisted in anger, and Yue nodded. “Impressive. Your memory does work despite the learning you incessantly crush into your brain.”

    Coran sighed, “Yes, Pyre Fierceshot. From all the accounts I have, a most surly, unsophisticated, barbaric curmudgeon. Perhaps he had a point that the Charr ‘gods’ were nothing to be trusted, but his methods to make his point were cruel, vicious, and sadistic; a most despicable creature… barely above a mindless beast, really. I fear for the Charr, and in fact all sentient life, if he ever gets his way.”

    A nervous pause settled among the table, as Vekk, Devona, Cynn, Aiden, and Mhenlo found themselves sharing awkward glances. Eve meanwhile, started to giggle uncontrollably.

    Coran blinked twice then his eyes narrowed suspiciously. “What?”
    Last edited by chemiclord; 08-01-2010 at 00:52.

  7. #17
    GWOnline.Net Member OCGuish's Avatar
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    heh that name sounds rather familar
    Tyhric Wolfblade (Tyrian) W/X 20~|~Lynia Wolfshex (Canthan) Me/Mo 20~|~Kilan Wolfsblade (Canthan) A/N 20~|~Kya Wolfsfire (Canthan) E/Me 20~|~Tyrannus Wolfsbow (Tyrian) R/Mo 20~|~Deirka Wolfblade (Elonian) D/Mo 20~|~Lythiria Wolfblade (Tyrian) N\Me 10
    Proud Member of Ultimate Genesis [GEN] GotW Sept. 19, 2006

  8. #18
    Banes Son
    Guest
    LOL, nice twist with Pyre!

    *howls*
    F5!!!!

  9. #19
    Aww, I like Pyre. Can't wait for them to meet :p

  10. #20
    GWOnline.Net Member Denji's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tavari Tinde View Post
    Aww, I like Pyre. Can't wait for them to meet :p
    Yeah, I rather liked Pyre myself, but that would only be a bit awkward there, eh? Heya Grazz, long time no see! Tell me how you've been, speak...up...oh yeah..."

    Of course, it seems that Gwen and Coran would get along swimmingly!

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